Beneath the Shadows

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Though True Sounds of Liberty are on Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label, they should not be misconstrued as hardcore. T.S.O.L. is a terrific rock & roll band which has its own style and unique presentation, a punch that obliterates tired clich├ęs and music without direction. The title track, "Beneath the Shadows," swims in perfect production from Thom Wilson, the slashing guitars finding a bed of other sounds to complement their bite. Jack Delauge's vocals have the right amount of angst and questioning of his plight on that tune as well as on "Walk Alone" on side two. "Soft Focus" opens the disc with a charging blitz which is one part Buzzcocks, two parts T.S.O.L. Where Texans the Delinquents were content to backup Lester Bangs or glorify the B-52's, True Sounds of Liberty really do sound as their name suggests, free from the constraints of redundant copying. So what if drummer Todd Scrivener can't do a drum roll, there's something solid and very rock & roll at work here. Be it the clever nuances of Greg Kuehn's keyboards in "Forever Old" or the smart intensity of the instrumental which opens side two, "Glass Streets," the band creates a mood which at times sounds like Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark battling the Clash. The dominating, buzzing guitar of "She'll Be Saying" could teach the mod "modern" rockers a thing or two. Scribbling leads cut through the dense forest of chaotic instrumentation, all coming to a halt as the keyboards bring in the title track which then re-invents Iggy Pop's "I Wanna Be Your Dog." And that's the key! Rather than merely copying, T.S.O.L. are exploring. The anti-thesis of "The Sound of Philadelphia" by MFSB from the disco decade before, there's enough slashing strings and artistry here to satisfy the most rabid fan of true rock & roll when college radio and rock stations forget what they're supposed to be playing. It's there in the evaporated love turned to anger in "Wash Away," as well as on the closing garage sounds of "Waiting for You." Heartbroken choruses which garner the band a Grade A for this excellent effort.

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